SPI High School French Immersion & Cultural Leadership in France
90% Rating
(13 Reviews)

SPI High School French Immersion & Cultural Leadership in France

SPI Study Abroad's high school French immersion program in Biarritz gives students the opportunity to truly experience France from an insider's perspective. Gracefully situated on the southwestern Atlantic coast, Biarritz is a luxurious French seaside town full of summertime amenities that attracts families from all over the country! Also known as the surf capital of Europe, this vibrant city comes to life with spectacles of live music, surf competitions, artists, and parades. Students live with caring homestay families, attend French language and culture class for college credit, participate in a variety of engaging cultural activities, and travel to some of the country's most amazing sites — creating memories that last a lifetime!

Locations
Europe » France » Biarritz
Program Categories
Length
1-2 Weeks
1-3 Months
Timeframe
Summer
Accommodation
Host Family
Language
French
Starting Price
$2,000.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Growth
    95%
  • Support
    79%
  • Fun
    89%
  • Housing
    92%
  • Safety
    88%

Program Reviews (13)

Default avatar
Arianna
Female
21 years old
Texas
University of North Texas

Two-Week Junction

10/10

The two weeks I spent in France last year mark a turning point in my studies of the French language, in my preparedness for university (I participated in SPI's program leading up to my first semester of college) and, more personally, as a first taste of independence. Since completing the program, my French has improved immensely; a year and a half later, I can mostly understand the language (spoken and written), and feel much more comfortable responding with a complex/detailed answer and conversing than I did before attending the program. As far as personal experience, the program provided an opportunity to explore a new place, meet new people, and problem solve independently; in this respect it was a valuable learning experience: I can now read maps like books, know how to ask for directions/help in French, can navigate a shop, use public transportation, etc.
Moreover, the program DEFINITELY gave me a unique experience as a participant-observer to daily life in Biarritz. Living with a homestay family had (still HAS, really) the most significant impact, for the experience showed me that language and culture is NOT necessarily a barrier, that with some effort and good humour, communication and connection is possible (and rewarding) between people, regardless fo their background.

Default avatar
Quincy
Female
19 years old
Boston, Massachusetts / Rennes, France
Other

Now I live in France!

10/10

I was sitting out in the surf line up in Biarritz, France, when everything clicked. I was sitting next to my instructor as we waited for a new set of waves to roll towards the beach. He asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Biarritz, how long I was staying, and how long I had been speaking French. It was after I answered his questions that I realized how much and how well I had understood him and how I was able to respond comfortably! It was this moment in Biarritz that gave me the confidence, experience, and practice to spend this year abroad in Brittany. SPI Feance has the perfect ratio of classes, trips, and free time. I was able to take surfing and cooking, and there were numerous other options as well. Another great thing about SPI is the wide range of experience each student had with the language. I had only taken French for one year, and I came out of the program capable of communicating a little bit of everything in French! SPI is a great program for anyone who loves language, travel, and having fun.

Default avatar
Zac
Male
19 years old
California

I went to France with SPI

10/10

I went to France with SPI study abroad last summer. It was cool because I learned a lot of French and met new friends. I went to Paris with my parents and sister before but this was my first time with out my family. This summer was better because I had a cool roommate and my homestay mom was the best cook and helped me with my accent. The classes were different than at my school and you get a transcript afterwards. My teacher was cool and told my roommate and I where the good restaurants were. I liked that I could go to the beach with friends when it was sunny and didn't have to always be with a director. The activities were fun and I saw a lot. One day we went hiking and I was like "what?" but then we got there and it was nice. I tell people I hiked in the Pyrenees and they think I'm cool. Those are the mountains there.

I think SPI is good because I had a lot of fun and learned more French than I thought I would. The directors were nice and were like my big sisters. My AP teacher doesn't make fun of my accent any more. I take French IV AP this year and it would be a lot harder if I didn't go to France. That was my summer.

How can this program be improved?

My room was kinda small. I know that's how Europe is but I only had a double size bed. A little later of a curfew would of been cool to because the sun sets really late and the city is safe.

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Mia
Female
19 years old
San Francisco

Great experience but program support and services are lacking

4/10

I did a 3-week session starting in Paris for sightseeing, followed by a homestay in Biarritz, France. I loved the host family and Biarritz area, as well as the friends I made on the trip. One of the criticisms I have is that despite the hefty cost of the trip we were required to pay out of pocket for almost everything, including admissions fees, public transportation, meals, etc. The only thing that seemed to be covered was the 3-night hotel stay in Paris and the TGV trip to Biarritz. In addition, my friend and had a roommate situation at our homestay that was quite disturbing. The SPI coordinators refused to believe our side of the story and basically accused us of lying.
One other thing: do not rent a cell phone from their recommended vendors. We used PicCell wireless, and after all was said and done the total for a month long rental cost over $600! We could have activated my US smart phone for international use for the time I was there and it would not have cost that much.

Response from SPI Study Abroad

While we fully appreciate and value all of the feedback we receive from our former students, it is also necessary that we address the concerns brought forth in this particular review.

As SPI states on our “What’s Included” page, spending varies greatly by person according to his or her preferences. So, while all program-related expenses are covered by the total tuition, we also recommend bringing a weekly budget of $250-$300 per week. This budget includes local transportation ($50), optional elective activities ($100), meals on overnight excursions ($50) and personal spending money ($50-100.). When students regularly elect to eat out at restaurants rather than eating meals with their homestays (which are included in the tuition), an individual’s weekly budget can become grossly inflated.

SPI’s on-site staff is highly-trained to assist with all questions and concerns from our students, and we pride ourselves on providing the utmost in care and support at all times. When this particular concern was brought forth, the SPI Biarritz team investigated every angle thoroughly and completely from all parties involved, and the issue was resolved on-site. As any high school student can attest to, learning to co-exist with a roommate is one of the biggest and most important components of the pre-college experience that defines high school study abroad.

SPI has been utilizing PicCell Wireless for a number of years now due to the company’s reputation as the #1 cell service provider for study abroad students. As is the case with international phone rates, it’s crucial that students pay strict attention to roaming rates and texting charges, as these can contribute to a much higher monthly bill than anticipated.

We appreciate your feedback and wish you all the best in your upcoming endeavors!

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Gabrielle
Female
19 years old
New York

My summer in Biarritz, France

10/10

The summer I went to Biarritz was one of the best summers of my life. I would 100% recommend this program to anyone who is studying french. My french improved so much, especially in listening (which for me is the hardest part), and I also learned so much about French culture. Living with a family was really nice and gave us a new perspective on life in foreign countries. My roommate was amazing and our host parents were lovely, we even had a host brothers and a sister and they were really helpful and nice! Biarritz is definitely the best place to study in France, the beach is beautiful, the people are so nice, and it has a really cool vibe! People from all around Europe come to study so you will get to meet all sorts of people!

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Adrianna
Female
19 years old
Houston, TX

Biarritz Trip

8/10

I did the Biarritz- Paris extension trip and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Paris was great and it was amazing to see and experience the best France has to offer. My week in Paris was spent sight-seeing all over town and getting to know a great group of people. The first week was more about landmarks, museums, parks, and food rather than speaking French. Once we got to Biarritz and settled in with our host families the language part of the trip became habit. Every morning my roommate Ali and I would walk down to the language school, go to our classes until about lunch time when we would eat what out host mom made for us. After lunch we would go explore the city or go on an event with the whole group. Each day was filled with a new exciting experience! I would definitely recommend this trip!

How can this program be improved?

I enjoyed the trip but the one thing I would change would be the housing arrangement. It was very crowded and the host family did not connect with my roommate and I very much

Default avatar
Monica
Female
24 years old
program: Biarritz, France
University of California- Berkeley

BEST DECISION EVER

10/10

A typical day in the program means waking up, going to class for about four hours, participating in the group day's planned activity, some free time, dinner, and then socializing at the beach. My french improved drastically; the teachers are enthusiastic and so likeable. The food is too good and the people you meet will open your mind; lots of foreigners go to Biarritz to improve their French, so you'll meet Swedes, Spanish, Irish, Italian, Swiss, German, Danish, Russian, and other people from different places. Aside from great classes and great people, the vibe is just wonderful. I made some insanely unforgetful memories in Biarritz, and I'm jealous of those who haven't lived it and have the opportunity to.

How can this program be improved?

Honestly, I did the program twice, and loved it both times. However, even though my homestay mom was amazing, I guess if I had to complain about something it would be to have more food options...? It got a bit repetitive.

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Alison
Female
19 years old
New York

Un ete fantastique

9/10

This program is meant to better your french, but it is more than that. It was such a cultural experience. I learned a lot about french culture from staying with my host family; including that if I want to say I have a short friend, I really can't say mon petit ami! I also met a lot of kids from Ireland, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, you name it, and we still remain friends to this day! You make friends for a life time there! The freedom given to us after class was fantastic. I loved using my free time to go swimming at La Grande Plage, surfing, shopping, or even just sitting at the beach. The planned activities like hikes or that local game were a lot of fun! My conversational french certainly improved. On my first day of the trip, I was sitting at a little cafe in Paris for lunch with a group of kids whose name I knew but not much more. That day, I laughed at my attempt to order in french. However, by the end of the trip I was ordering food at bakeries or restaurants and asking for directions in french alongside people who had now become close friends.

How can this program be improved?

Not being able to do activities that were done in the first set of two weeks since the people who were there a month already did them. For example, the day trip to San Sebastian.

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Blakesley
Female
24 years old
Colorado
Colorado State University

France

10/10

I took the study abroad trip not expecting to get the experience that I did. I met people from all over the world, dealt with kind teachers and an even better host family. I learned more about myself through the people that I friended, time on the beach and immersing myself in a completely different culture. You learn that it's okay to get lost sometimes and in that I believe is when you find yourself the most. As for the city, I plan on going back as soon as I can.

How can this program be improved?

some of the staff seemed aggravated most of the trip.

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Katie
Female
19 years old
Houston

A Good Way to See Other Perspectives

7/10

I have to be honest here, this was a good trip but it was also a bad trip.
Good
-Host Family
-Classes
-A few activities
Bad
-Safety
-Activities
A mixture of both
-Group
Good
Host Family-The host family was very accommodating, for me they were nice and they made pretty good food. They were very welcoming to me and helped me learn new french vocabulary. Others had difficulty with their host families but mine was nice.
Classes-The class structure was okay, personally I thought it was easy and book work. However this is due to the test at the beginning. I completely messed up my test so I think I was in the 3rd highest level. They put you in classes with your skill level which is good.
A few Activities- a few activities interested me, the surfing was nice as was the tour of the chocolate factory.
Bad
Safety-The safety depends on the student. The group leaders give you ample free time which lets you do what you want. Safety depended on yourself not the leaders.
Activities-I enjoy physical activities however the groups did not accommodate well with me. True there was surfing but other activities did not entertain me. Some activities included visiting the chocolate museum, dancing, eating at a "spain" type food place, and surfing. We did have freedom to do what we want after we participated in the 'mandatory' activity but this town does not have many activities that I enjoy. Usually we went shopping, eating or went to the beach.
Mixture of both
Group-the trip rests on the people on the trip. These people come from all over and have different viewpoints on life. This is good but bad at the same time. No one in my group really enjoyed physical activities so I would have to compromise and hang out with them.
Overall it was an all-right trip. This trip helped me get prepared for colleges due to the bad and good things. I personally stick to schedules and this helped me realize what college will be like for me. However I was also able to see the 'partying' scene and realize that I will not be a part of it. If I knew this would happen I probably would not have gone. It was a good experience and I appreciate it, however I do not believe that the price is right for what I received.

Response from SPI Study Abroad

Thank you for your review!

SPI Study Abroad truly values what each of our students has to say about their experience abroad. We want to ensure that our programs remain a high-quality cultural experience in which students have the opportunity to grow, mature, gain independence, and develop important life skills .

SPI’s number-one priority is, and always has been, the safety of our students. We have strategically selected each of our program locations based on the safety and manageability of the city, and our dedicated on-site staff is available 24/7 to provide support and assistance for our students. During our programs, our students are aware that they can come to us anytime, with any questions or concerns – that’s what we’re there for.

In addition, SPI expects each of our students to abide by our clearly-expressed code of conduct. We maintain a very strict no-tolerance policy when it comes to consuming alcohol or other illegal substances; choosing not to honor this policy is grounds for immediate expulsion from the program. Our directors and staff check in with our students in the evenings after the day’s activities, and students are expected to abide by their nightly curfews.

SPI facilitates a variety of meaningful, enjoyable activities and electives on our programs. These may include, but are not limited to: cooking, surfing, museum visits, hiking, photography, dance, and day excursions to surrounding towns. The main focus of our programs is to provide students with activities that will immerse them in the local community and allow them to further their language learning.

We’re glad that you were able to use your experiences with SPI as a useful way to prepare for college, and we hope that your school year is going well!

Default avatar
Tal
Female
19 years old
Philadelphia, PA

Love Biarritz

9/10

Not only was the program fantastic, but the immersion in Biarritz made it so much better. The town was beautiful and perfect for walking around. It was the perfect location for 2 weeks. Talking with natives made my French ten times better!

How can this program be improved?

I would just try to have a little less free time. We did not need 2+ hours every day

Default avatar
Monica
Female
19 years old
Puerto Rico

AMAZING

10/10

The people in Biarritz were amazing and the classes were great!!! I can now actually speak French, not just understand it and I met so many great, open-minded people from all over the world. The social scene was great too... I loved it!

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Elizabeth
Female
42 years old
austin, Tx
University of Texas- Austin

Would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world!

10/10

What we loved most about Biarritz was the mixture of the quality of the French program directors, teachers and classes combined with the opportunity for so many awesome activities, surfing, kayaking, rafting, hiking...!

About The Provider

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SPI Study Abroad offers high school language immersion, volunteer service, and cultural leadership summer programs in Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, and China.

The five essential elements of SPI programs include total language immersion, college credit courses, homestay experience, cultural excursions & activities, and

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